The investment comes at a time when the world’s largest retailer faces increasing competition from Amazon and other e-commerce businesses.
Walmart says the following locations will be remodeled or are already undergoing a remodel: 2701 Carlisle Blvd. NE in Albuquerque; 3500 Coors Blvd. SW in Albuquerque; 3728 N Prince St. in Clovis; 4600 E Main St. in Farmington; 3800 N Lovington Hwy. in Hobbs; 2250 Main St. NW in Los Lunas; and 3251 Cerrillos Rd. in Santa Fe.
The “customer-focused innovations” include the following:
— An autonomous floor scrubber that cleans concrete floors will be launched in 22 New Mexico stores
— “Pickup Towers” – 16-foot-tall vending machines that fulfill online orders after the customer scans a barcode on their smart phone – will be added to eight stores across the state
— The company’s free grocery pickup option will be added to more than a dozen stores. Customers shop online and schedule a time to pull up alongside the store and have their groceries loaded into their car. A grocery delivery option will be available at eight additional stores.
— A new back room system called the FAST Unloader will be implemented in 18 stores across the state. After items arrive on trucks to the stores, the system automatically sorts them based on priority and department.
The company also recently introduced Walmart Voice Order, in which customers use Google Assistant to add items to their online Walmart cart. To use the program, customers say “Hey Google, talk to Walmart,” to their Google Assistant-enabled smart phones.
Asked how the technological changes would impact employees, Walmart spokeswoman Tiffany Wilson echoed a common refrain among employers in increasingly automated industries: that the initiatives would allow workers to focus on less repetitive tasks and focus on more fulfilling ones. In Walmart’s case, Wilson said it’s also allowed the company to create new positions.
“We now have thousands of personal shoppers who pick out the best meat and produce for online shoppers, and those jobs didn’t exist a few years ago (at Walmart),” said Wilson. “For every new technology we add, we need people to operate and assist those technologies.”
Wilson said there are no plans to reduce Walmart’s New Mexico workforce in light of the changes. She said the company is focused on providing more benefits and higher pay for its employees.